Senior Freyja Coe is representing Austin College today, February 24, at the Texas Undergraduate Research Day with her poster presentation “Using Mathematics to Optimize Distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in North Texas.”
Normally held every other year at the Texas Capitol, the Undergraduate Research Day is being held virtually in 2021. More than 60 research projects reflecting the work of numerous undergraduate students from more than 30 academic and health-related institutions across Texas are scheduled for presentation.
Freyja, of Spring, Texas, has had a busy academic career at Austin College. She is completing majors in math and German and minors in computer science and political science.
”I decided on this research topic because I wanted to work on a problem that is local to my community and relevant for the times we are in,” she said. “I am interested in math in the real world and what problems we can solve with it, which is also why I am studying computer science.”
“In my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to take a Quantitative Consulting Class that worked with Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County to find solutions to various problems they had<” Freyja explained. “For my honors thesis I wanted to do something similar, so I reached out to Dr. Nate Bigelow (Political Science), whom I have worked for during two summers in the Social Entrepreneurship for Poverty Alleviation (SEPA) Program. In this program, students pair for the summer with local nonprofits and help them apply for grants. I asked Nate for other ways to connect to my community here in Sherman, and he put me in touch with Texoma Health Foundation (THF), which led to this project.’’
Freyja and her partners at THF found that one of the major challenges for local nonprofits during the COVID pandemic is access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Using Operations Research, Freyja and THF developed a decision assist function in Excel to help efficiently distribute PPE and collect data through surveys. Since accurate and up-to-date data is necessary for decision assist software to make meaningful suggestions they also worked to develop a survey to collect the needed data in a format that is easily integrated into Excel.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 50 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 12:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. Related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Austin College cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. The College, founded in 1849, is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.